As some ingredients have more flavor before cooking, this edible protagonist has more flavor before he learns his lesson.
The punny title’s “caper” is a brined flower bud, the kind that lands on plates for eating—well, eating by some people. “[A] caper is a tiny pickled sourpuss, who lives in a jar in your fridge and is never eaten by children.” Adults effuse, “Ciao, Mr. Caper, delicioso!!!” and, “Ya Meester Caper, ve luv you!!!” But the grouchy caper seethes with jealousy of a tall red lollipop who’s desired by children. So Mr. Caper executes a caper—he sneaks into a factory and pours a beaker of green liquid—caper flavoring—into vats of lollipop batter in order to make unwitting children “appreciate my complex flavor.” Worldwide, children lick green lollies, turn green with nausea and start “acting in the most appalling ways.” They upend trash cans, stick out their tongues and bring home bad grades. Moral: Capers can only ever be an acquired taste, and this remorseful one must wait until the kids grow up. Krall’s shiny digital illustrations are cartoony and bold, with some Grinch-like expressions and dramatic composition. One Everykid-likes-lollipops spread could be straight from Disney’s “It’s a Small World.”
There’s a sly edginess to characters who’ll do anything to be eaten, but this particular pickled sourpuss loses his tang as he lowers his expectations. (Picture book. 4-7)